Hospitals Settle with Feds in Probe of Unnecessary Cardiac Procedures

Hundreds of hospitals nationwide have settled with the federal government after an investigation into the suspected overuse of implantable cardioverter defibrillators, or ICDs.

According to one media report, “The implantable cardiac devices, which cost $25,000 to $40,000 apiece, are wired to the heart and deliver an electric shock if they detect an abnormal rhythm. Their use increased after Medicare changed its rules in January 2005 allowing them for primary prevention of arrhythmia. The rules say the devices cannot be implanted within 40 days of a heart attack or 90 days of bypass surgery or angioplasty, but many doctors have chosen to implant them in such circumstances anyway.

The investigation has raised awareness among hospitals across the country about Medicare’s national coverage decision for implantable defibrillators. It has been credited with lowering the number of the devices implanted in recent years.”